Predicting Outcome of Childhood Bacterial Meningitis With a Single Measurement of C-Reactive Protein

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Abstract

Introduction:

C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, shows high serum levels in invasive bacterial infections. We investigated the potential of a single CRP measurement at different phases of acute childhood bacterial meningitis to predict outcomes.

Methods:

Using whole-blood finger-prick samples with no centrifugation, CRP was measured quantitatively on arrival and on day 3 or 4 in children participating in 2 prospective, randomized, double-blind treatment studies conducted in Latin America or Angola. The results were compared with patient outcomes.

Results:

Although initial CRP values from 669 children gave useful prognostic information, the 3rd or 4th day measurements taken from 275 children associated significantly with seizures, slow recovery and low scores on the Glasgow Outcome Scale, with odds ratios for CRP values above the median (62 mg/L) ranging from 2 to 6, 2 to 5, and 3 to 5 (Latin America–Angola), respectively. Hearing impairment, although not full deafness, was 3 to 7 times more likely if CRP was above the median soon after hospitalization.

Conclusions:

Especially in resource-poor settings, clinicians have few simple-enough tools to identify the child with meningitis who requires maximum attention. CRP is a worthy addition.

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